Transnational life and cross-border immobility in pandemic times

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The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically disrupted and reconfigured the cross-border movements of people. Based on an anthropological study of the experiences of transnational migrants during the pandemic (May 2020–May 2021), this article explores stories of how cross-border immobility impacts transnational life and sense of belonging. The stories reveal the emotional toll of prolonged family separation across geographical distances when loved ones are no longer ‘just one flight away’ and give voice to experiences of being ‘trapped’, ‘stuck’ or ‘stranded’ in a state of transnational limbo. Running through the stories are intensified experiences of foreignness, non-belonging, precariousness and discrimination. Some also felt abandoned by their country of origin as border closures left them ‘locked out’ and ‘blowing in the wind’, fostering an experience akin to exile.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-74
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Networks
Issue number1
Early online date12 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


  • COVID-19
  • belonging
  • cross-border (im)mobility
  • migrant transnationalism
  • pandemic mobility regimes
  • transnational life
  • transnationalized families

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